Arizona Scenic Tours – The BLOG
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Getting To Know Arizona – The State Flag

For my first posting in this new line of posts, I am going to go over the Arizona State Flag. You might know what it looks like…. but do you know the history behind it?

Officially, the State of Arizona website, museum and official materials cite the following origins of the Arizona flag: Charles Wilfred Harris, Colonel in the Arizona National Guard, served as the captain of the unit’s rifle team in 1910. During the rifle competition at Camp Perry, Ohio, the Arizona team was the only team without an emblem of any kind. Colonel Harris was chiefly responsible for the creation of the rifle team flag that in 1917 became the Arizona State Flag. Blue and gold are the colors of Arizona. Red and gold are the colors carried by Coronado’s Expedition of 1540 to the Seven Cities of Cibola. The blue is “liberty blue” identical to the color in the United States flag field of stars and represents our pride in becoming a state. Since Arizona is a western state the rays of the setting sun seemed appropriate. There are thirteen rays representing the original “thirteen colonies.” The large copper star identifies Arizona as the largest producer of copper in the United States. The flag was adopted on February 17, 1917, by the third state legislature. It was passed into law without the signature of Governor Thomas Campbell. The governor did not officially state his reasons for taking no action on the bill.

The following describes the transition of “Rifle Team Flag” to “State Flag”: While Colonel Harris is credited with the creation of the Rifle Team flag, several individuals appear to have played a role in the creation of the state’s first official flag. WR Stewart of Mesa was working in conjunction with Colonel Charles W. Harris, who was the Arizona Adjutant General and head of the Arizona National Guard. Stewart, as President of the Mesa Rifle Team, felt compelled to design a flag for competition. WR Stewart’s wife (Mae) sewed the first flag for competition from a sketch that he had made on the back of an envelope. Carl Hayden, Arizona’s first US Senator was reported to have been involved with Colonel Harris in designing the first state flag, and his wife, Nan Hayden was responsible for sewing the first state flag. Rachel Berry, a leader in women’s suffrage and the first woman elected to our State Legislature in 1914 (taking office in 1915), is also reported to have co-designed the Arizona flag with Nan Hayden in the years preceeding statehood (1912). She became a huge advocate for our flag becoming official. It is likely that many individuals were involved in its conception, design and production, rather than one or two individuals working independently.

The Arizona State Flag is definitely unique. One might often wonder when seeing it…. how it came to be. So next time you see it flying, you will have some knowledge of why it looks the way it does and what it represents. It represents history and exploration, it represents our copper rich soil and amazing sunsets, and it represents pride in statehood. And that is just the beginning.


One Response to “Getting To Know Arizona – The State Flag”

  1. some truly fantastic info , Gladiola I discovered this….

    […]Getting To Know Arizona – The State Flag « Arizona Scenic Tours – The BLOG[…]…

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